Pop Quiz: What is 1 thing you likely take for granted, yet could bring monumental joy, growth and connection if paid attention to it?
Answer: Your marriage.
Friends, most days I hardly look at it: I rush through breakfast, trying to start my day; I give a little hello near the Keurig; I listen and quickly respond; I go through the bare-bottom motions, trying to make sure I’m at least good enough to get by; I get ready to watch TV instead of to connect; I respond based on my own opinions, rather than hearing his; I focus on the kids and then remember he’s there too.
Uh-oh. Can I admit to you all? I am not the model wife.
And, while it pains me to write this, I have found such encouragement in the book, “A Wife’s Secret to Happiness” by Jen Weaver.
Right off, in the first chapter, her words meet my heart: “God will not call us anywhere his presence does not go with us,” she says, “He will not ask us to do what he has not equipped us to complete. The Lord longs to lead our marriages into spacious place, interwoven with his peace and strength…the day you made your vows He participated in an active agreement, invisible, yet majestic in glory.”
Thank you, God…we are not doing this thing called marriage alone. The Creator of our universe is creating something new, as we listen, go and respond with him. He is working within the confines of our arguments, annoyances, and mishaps to create space, love and peace. Bring it, God! I need that.
To ignite his power, one question remains: Will we let him in to work – by listening, seeking and following or will we continue doing the same ‘ole stuff?
What does it look like to let Him work?
I’m finding, it’s:
Prayer over panic.
Listening rather than responding in flesh.
Trusting God’s timeline to change, rather than my own.
Seeking to notice his good, before his bad.
Jen Weaver breaks down specific ways to see these high and lofty goals through (Thanks Jen!):
Write down index card prayers. Carry them with you.
Ask God to bless your husband right when you’re in the heat of battle.
Remind yourself to welcome God’s presence. Put reminders around your house with verses.
Scribe 5 pain points you have about your marriage. Bring them to God and ask them how he wants you to work them out.
Remind yourself, through scripture, how God has been there for you and won’t abandon you now.
Marriages that work, take work. If I’ve learned anything – it’s this. But, I’ve also learned, when God is at work, things seamlessly fall into place. Like Tetris. Bing! Connection happens.
Where do you need to let God take the lead? How might he want to put things together again? How might his small nudges be leading you to a greater outpouring of love?
Love that looks like:
A listening ear.
An open fist.
A generous portion of time.
An opening of your whole heart.
A letting down of guard.
A soft-spoken word.
An offering of grace.
A handing-over to God (Re: the past).
An excitement for the future.
Reliance on the Sustainer, Overcomer, and Creator.
Wherever God is calling you – if you step in, He’ll meet you there.
I remember looking at her. Withdrawn. Held back. Unwilling to join the rest of the family. Unwilling to come.
I beckoned and smiled. Patted my lap. Extended the invitation like I’d done a thousand times before.
Then, like a thousand times before, she turned away. Scars from past abandonment, neglect, and abuse held her like chains to her chosen spot. She would not come.
In those early days of adoption, it was like God had given a mirror to look in. I saw myself in her. I saw how woundedness had caused me to withdraw, how I braced myself against warmth because I’d believed the lie that I didn’t need it, didn’t deserve it. I convinced myself I could do without love and acceptance. Slowly, the cold I surrounded myself with had seeped deep into my soul and distorted my perspective of life, God, and myself.
I was hard. Jaded. A real cynic but didn’t even know it.
And then I adopted a wounded one.
In doing so, God revealed to me something I’d never allowed the core of my being to truly accept: I was loved.
Surely one of the saddest things ever is to be deeply and lavishly loved but not have the eyes to perceive it.
What a tragedy, to get to the other side of life and see how one could have lived- as a dearly beloved child of God- but having missed it. Adoption taught me there’s such a thing as failure to “lay hold.”
“…So that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:12
Just as my Little Bit is of our household, never to leave, always identified with us, so we are in Christ. He is our brother, our family, and we are in the household of God. He has reached down and laid hold of you (Phil 3:12) and has taken you from the domain of darkness and abuse and rejection and pain and transferred you into the kingdom of the family- His beloved Son (Col 1).
We can sulk and hold back and piddle in the corner with our little pet toys… or we can reach out with both hands, press forward with all we’ve got, and lay hold of that which has laid hold of us.
I know what rejection is like. I also know the remedy for rejection is acknowledging the acceptance offered in Christ.
The remedy for neglect is embracing the love and warmth extended me in Jesus.
The remedy for abuse is running to the table of fellowship with Him, where I am always welcomed, loved, and nourished back to health.
Hiding out in the corner never did anyone any good … except the enemy who wishes to single us out from the rest in order to devour us.
As a mom, I knew I needed to help my precious one learn to embrace the new, push forward into the warmth, and lay hold. And that meant I needed to practice it myself too.
She and I began a messy, painful, glorious journey together. And last night at the dinner table, my Little Bit came and sat in my lap without being invited. WIN!! She has made such amazing progress in the nine years we’ve had her. I’m so very, very proud of her. I wouldn’t trade the healing we’ve both received for all the world! I’ve come to now how our Daddy feels when we trust Him and lean into His love, when we run to Him expecting to be heard and loved on. How His heart thrills When we assume He is who He says He is. Wow! What a God. What an AMAZING Father.
How about you, my friend? Will you join your sisters in coming out of the corner, putting down our pet emotions, stretching out our hands and opening our arms wide to embrace the grace that has been lavished on us?
You can do this. Together, we can lay hold. Let’s live as those lavishly loved.
Arabah Joy is wife to Jackson, adoptive and biological mom to 4 little ones, and missionary to East Asia. Her adventures span far and wide, from eating pig snouts to giving birth in three different Asian countries. Mostly though, she is a broken woman redeemed by grace. She has written several books including the 40 day devotional, Trust Without Borders. You can find out more and connect with her atArabahJoy.com.
Seriously. Ever felt like calling it quit, throwing in the towel, placing all your cards on the table? However you describe it, this race called life can make even the most seasoned of runners tired. Falling down. Not wanting to get back up again. Panting for water. Sitting roadside, alone.
I got tired today. Not for any good reason. Something just came over me and where I once had energy, I felt must go to bed. And where I had clarity, I felt fuzz. And where I am normally eager, I crawled like a slow turtle. Finally, when I went to my room to sleep, a tear slipped out.
Any one of us could land there any day, couldn’t we?
This race is tiring. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Frankly, we can make our own tomb and lie in it if we aren’t careful. We can pull the shades down, dim the lights and lay our self down for days, letting those slimy lurky dirty feelings hang all around us – if we aren’t careful.
But, in actuality, feelings never save us from tombs. Only the power of God does.
Consider this: 3 days and Jesus rose.
He bust out: He was in darkness, but moved to light. He was down, but never – out.
Now, through Christ we can rise up from what wants to keep us down too.
No one can hold the power of God down. No one can restrain what the Lord is sending out. No one’s emotions are too strong for God’s resurrection.
I don’t care what the liar and accuser tells you…
Open your eyes to faith.
It is what gets you out of bed.
It is what helps you take the next step.
It is what makes you say that prayer yet again.
It is what moves mountains.
Press against the very thing that came to hold you down: If tiredness hits you, it is by faith you go outside and run. If the idea you’ll never find the man of your dreams, it is by faith you go to that church singles event. If it is your financial debt that sends you into the dumps, it is by generosity towards your neighbor you find freedom.
Resiliency in Christ Jesus bounces you beyond the very thing the enemy is orchestrating.
You step out of your tomb and see verdant pastures. You see life. Hope. Brilliance. God’s more.
Do you want the spring in your step restored?
Step in. Step out. Go out. Give out. Press into what is pressing into you – and you’ll get somewhere.
I was more than a tad frustrated. But even though I was ticked off, I felt my words were kind and made my point. Impulsive but clever nonetheless.
I was more than a tad frustrated. But even though I was ticked off, I felt my words were kind and made my point. Impulsive but clever nonetheless.
Well said, I thought.
I went to hit the send button but stopped short. Something felt vaguely familiar about this scene.
I heard a whisper in my heart, Don’t send it.
Hmm, I thought to myself, I haven’t talked to God about this yet have I?
I shut my laptop, pushed it aside and prayed over the email I was about to launch.
You know the saying, sleep on it—give it fresh eyes in the morning. Good advice.
Before I shut my eyes, I asked God, Is this what you would have me send?
There have been times when I’ve heard God whisper and ignored it. The still small voice—the warning. Some might say, “Oh it’s just our conscience talking” but I’ve learned the difference…the hard way.
I’ve brushed off this heart whisper enough times to know when I do, it can prove painful. One such experience is still branded in my memory like the scar left from a run in with fiery stove.
It concerned another email from years ago. It was innocent really. At least I rationalized it was.
Scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
And isn’t that what the heart does? It deceives us by telling us lies we believe.
My heart is no different.
There had been a long thread of correspondence within a group I leading. People had been adding to it for days. There was one decision maker with whom I was to consult with and then let the group know the results.
Without thinking, I added my comment to the consultant at the bottom of the ongoing thread instead of starting a new one. My remark was harmless enough, although selfish in nature and could have misconstrued if seen by the wrong eyes. I knew this to be true but again I rationalized, I was getting my point across. I thought, what’s the harm?
Then I heard it. The moment before I hit send, a whisper ever so softly, gently.
A voice of reason calling out to me to think twice. Don’t send it.
I brushed aside the delicate call to stop and pushed the button sending my pixellated words into cyberspace permanency.
Sure enough, a certain person in the group who was the curious type scrolled through the multiple threads of conversation and landed on mine. She read through my innocent motive straight to the self-seeking one. She exposed the inner workings of a fallacious heart. And then proceeded to unleash a furry of epic porportion all over the information superhighway.
I was done for. Humiliated. Embarrassed. Scarred for life.
Yes, that about covers it—all the emotional daggers that could impaled me, did.
I hadn’t paid attention to the tension of God’s warning.
Pain however does get our attention. And sometimes God allows it. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Friends, God doesn’t speak to hear His own voice. No, He lovingly will use whatever it takes to protect us from our own undoing.
His voice is not only one of correction but a voice of protection.
God could have kept this person from exposing me but because she did, I learned to listen. Getting burned on a stove a few times might hurt but it serves to save you from the real fire later.
After praying over my most recent email situation and putting it to a good night’s sleep, I woke afresh with a new attitude knowing what I was to do.
I opened my laptop, looked at the blinking cursor, highlighted the majority of the piece and pushed delete.
I thought, God will take care of it from here.
There have been multiple, “Don’t do its” in between these two experiences and through them I’ve learned to discern His voice better but moreover I’m remembering to ask for it.
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
Listen and obey. Simple as that.
And when it comes to emails, letters or talk I ask myself daily…
Am I using my words to make a point, or am I using my words to point to Christ?
Looking forward, pressing on and seeking God in every bump ad twist in the road.
Christy a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, and brand new grandma! Her passion is to help women find their joy by experiencing God at work for them in their all their circumstances.
I thought Christianity was supposed to be a “you’ve arrived kind of thing.” Whoever sold it to me that way, I want a refund. You lied.
Truth is: I am crippled and Jesus is my crutch. I lean on him.
He relieves the pressure. He does the pushing. I do the moving ahead. It’s hard. It’s uphill at times. It’s tiring. It’s a battle, no doubt.
But, I see the battle is good.
It makes us warriors.
Being a warrior makes us aware there is a war.
Being aware of war makes us think twice about how much we need our God.
Being aware of how much we need our God makes us want him more.
Us wanting him more makes us draw near to him.
Drawing near to him makes him draw near to us.
With God, no matter how it looks, we are always winning. I am okay with the battle.
The truth is Christianity is not about arriving, it is about journeying into holy. It is about grabbing hold of the hem of Jesus, as if it is the only life-preserver in the center of a raging ocean. It is about grabbing it and letting it take you where it will. Riding the waves of his truth, until the wave no longer looks like a giant killer-wave that is about to sink you, but a much smaller stretch of water that has been worked out by his love.
All your agony turns into testimony. People draw near and they say, “Wow, look at what God did with you.”
It is a miracle, when you get truthful.
This is what it is about – this thing called faith. Someone sold it to us like a bag of tricks:
You’ll get rich.
You’ll be happy.
You’ll feel good.
You’ll be delivered to everything you wanted.
You’ll find trials, but trials rise into his love.
You’ll find pain, but pain is consoled by his love.
You’ll find heartache, but you will relate to Christ’s heart of ache as it slowly dwindled on the cross.
You’ll find persecution, but you will find peace that your true love is your true love when you are willing to outlast it.
You’ll find shame, but you will wave at it and say, “God promised the world would hate me.”
You’ll find guilt, but you’ll find an advocate, in the Spirit, as you place it like a present before the filth of Jesus’ feet.
Faith it is what dreams are made of and it is what trials deliver you to. It is what will take you home.
Renewing your mind isn’t a one time ticket to delivered, it is a continual commute to holy. Being not conformed to this world is not a quick command you give yourself, but it is a diligent war that must be fought minute-by-minute.
This is a battle. We are in the center of it. Don’t give up fight. It all counts. It is all worth it. God sees. The party will begin the second the curtain closes, and it all will be worth it.
It’s the last thing you want to do on a day where you need to do everything, and hardly want to do that. But, there I found myself, at the drug store posing half-heartedly in front of a white pull-down curtain. I needed a passport photo.
Mugshot. Mugshot- was what ran through my head he clicked. That – and the idea that I really should have put my hair down and tried to improve myself a bit, like most moms do. Most moms throw on the lipgloss. Most moms might adjust their hair rather than keeping it in this weird outdated bun look. Most moms might try to smile a little bigger.
Not me. I was tired. Daughter woke at 3 AM with a wet bed. My eye is still not done with pink eye (what are you supposed to do – throw out every last inch of makeup?). Husband is gone all week and I am womaning the house. So, yes, when the “click” happened, well, my face? It didn’t really happen that much.
I just stood there.
He finished the job.
I looked at the photo.
And saw what I am fully convinced must be the worst mug shot ever of me. It was as bad as those pre-jail photos – you all know what I am talking about. It’s the one we all see on TV – “And…today, a mom went rogue in CVS”. The image shoots up on screen. We all know it. The light is bad, the face looks horrible, the smile is gone and the woman looks like death just visited her.
This was me. Bags under eyes. Eye red. Smile gone. And, to add to all this, an outshoot of hair wanted to show off right above my ear. How does this even happen, anyway?
The picture is not cute, not cute at all, I thought as I stood outside the drug store contemplating whether to go back in and hassle the photo guy until he made me beautiful, photo-shopped, wrinkle-less, perfect and all that I ever dreamed of being 8:00 am on a Wednesday morning.
But, I didn’t. I just stood there. Why? Because on my heart was this weird inclination of revelation. Like God wanted to do something with me and this photo. So, although I almost walked back in the store 4 times, I didn’t.
If I’ve learned anything in my short life it is this: You don’t want to turn down God, when He’s working on something.
Frankly, I can’t even begin to imagine if Jesus turned down his role. “Change of plans, I’m not dying on the cross.”
Nope. Not good.
With this in mind, I try to stay on God’s path and when I hop off, I fight with all my might to get back on. So, I just stood there on the sidewalk – a freak with a photo – and stared at it. Two steps to the door, two steps back.
Come on, God….any time now.
Friend, maybe, like me, the ugly thing you can’t get through, God is trying to speak through…
And finally, it came to my heart: Kelly, on your worst day, on your ugly days, on your tired days, on your worn days, on your pain-stricken days, on your unsure days, on your bad hair days, on your I-don’t-have-a-smile-days – still, Kelly, I love you.
I love that picture. I love your realness. I love your wrinkles. I love you. You don’t need to be more for me. I don’t love you less when you look less or appear less. I choose you – just like that – eye bags, red-eye, smileless and all…
When you see that image, imagine me, wanting you – in all your ugly-, frumpy- and grumpy-ness.
So, I took that square photo, tucked it into my bag and walked to the car. I’d lie if I didn’t tell you I gasped at it one more time on my way home. I did. But, I also let that passport stand for what it really was – a reminder: No matter where I go, I always am in God’s love.
I’ll look at this image again. And again. And, my prayer – for when I do – is this: God, let us always remember our worst images, are made beautiful because you simply love us as we are. And, in that, we can rest. We don’t need to work up your love. Help us to remember your goodness, your kindness and your unconditional love towards us, God. Amen.
The sun shone bright in the kitchen the day I realized I had no one I could call. Standing at the counter, slicing a pear into bite-sized pieces for my 10-month-old firstborn, I’d instead sliced my finger. I stood silent at the sink, letting water wash over the wound and watching blood swirl in the basin. After bandaging my finger, I reached down for my son, placed him in his highchair, spread the pears on his tray, and in what seemed the very next moment, I woke up underneath the kitchen table. I had fainted, and it felt as if my brain was rebooting after being switched off. My body felt clammy and weak, and as I lay there, immobile, my initial panic subsided as I heard the happy gurgles of my boy, safe with his pears.
It was then that the thought intruded: Who will I call to come help me? I did not have an answer, because I did not have a friend. The knife had opened my finger, but it seemed to have opened a far greater wound, a wound I’d tried desperately to ignore, hide, and resist–the wound of loneliness.
At that time, I was a young pastor’s wife, a young mother, and young in my understanding of God’s grace. When I picture myself in those years, I think of myself in two places: in my home and all tangled up in my own head.
After college, I’d waited for friends to appear, as they’d appeared in every other era of my life–through youth group and band and softball teams and housemates. And they, in fact, hadn’t appeared. I felt as if I’d forgotten how to do friendship and wondered if I was no longer friend-able. In my insecurity, I remained isolated, both in my home and in my head.
I remember hoping another mother would invite me out after morning Bible study. I remember desiring one of the older pastor’s wives to take me under her wing. After my pear-eating boy received a devastating diagnosis, I remember wishing others would intentionally step into my shoes and walk with me, tell me what to do, or care for me in some way.
I was lonely for a friend.
Many women are, I know this now. Many feel forever on the outside. Many have been hurt by other women, so they intentionally stay on the outside so as not to be hurt again. And many feel their genuine attempts at friendship have produced little fruit.
Friendship is not as simple as we’ve been led to believe. But here’s something else I now know: loneliness isn’t always as complex as we’ve been led to believe either.
Sometimes Loneliness is a Gift from God.
Whether we’re new to a neighborhood or a church, whether a good friend has moved away or died, or whether a once close friendship has shifted, any type of change or separation can arouse a sense of loneliness and longing in our hearts. When we have them, we long for healthy relationships and happy life circumstances to remain static. We long for deep community and a sense of belonging. We long for the good old days when friendships came easy and we could enjoy those friends without all the adult responsibilities and burdens mixed in.
Longing is not a misplaced desire. In fact, the longing for friendship is a good one. How we pursue or respond to that longing, however, is important. We must remember that perfect relationships and perfect community and perfect circumstances do not exist on this side of eternity. Knowing that life and friendship will always be imperfect helps us embrace what we do have as grace and gift, even if the current gift is aloneness.
Our aloneness is a gift because it teaches us to turn our desires to the Lord in prayer and swells our hearts with a hope and eagerness for our true home with Jesus. Sometimes God may love us best by calling us to aloneness, precisely so that He can meet us intimately in a time when He has our full attention. We can be at peace with our aloneness, knowing that we have access to God and can cast all our cares and desires upon Him. Because all is gift and grace, we can wait in aloneness with eager expectation of how God might also give us the gift and grace of togetherness.
Sometimes Loneliness is Self-Imposed
Curiously, many of us seem to be standing beside one another, holding identical longings for friendship yet resolutely believing we’re alone in them. The truth is we aren’t actually wandering alone; we’re practically tripping over each other as we grasp at our dreams of friendship that is perfect and easy. These ideal dreams of friendship are often created and watered in our loneliness, and these dreams produce bitterness as we begin demanding from others and from God according to our exacting standards.
I certainly speak from experience. As I look back at my twenties, I see a lonely girl with a stubborn wish-dream. I see a lonely girl because of the stubborn wish-dream. A friend, according to my dream, would have been in her twenties (like me), been married and had children (like me), and understood what ministry entailed (like me). At the same time, I was afraid to ask for help, afraid to initiate, and deathly afraid of being vulnerable. I wanted the gift, but I was unwilling to do anything to receive or unwrap it.
I did pray, and I did cry. And all throughout that time, God was answering. He was good to me in my aloneness; He was the friend who was constantly present. But He was also answering with real people, imperfect people (like me), who lived beside me and went to church with me and who were a few steps ahead and behind me. I see this now, but at the time I couldn’t see past my wish-dream, my standards, and all my bitter longings. If I’d just looked around and if I’d just have been willing to take a few risks of vulnerability and initiation, I would have experienced the answer God was trying to give me.
That’s what I learned that day when the knife cut my finger and opened my heart. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anyone I could call; it was that I was afraid to call. It was that I would have rather drowned in self-sufficiency and isolation than risk reaching out or admitting my loneliness.
Are you lonely for a friend? Loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of; turn to God with your deepest desires and needs. While His love is steady and sure, know that nothing is constant about our relationships with one another–there will be times of abundance as well as times of aloneness. Cultivate a heart posture that receives both aloneness and togetherness as gift and grace. Perhaps this will give you fresh eyes for the women there all around you.
Christine Hoover is a pastor’s wife, mom to three boys, a speaker, and the author of several books, including From Good to Grace, and her latest, Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships.
When Christine and her family moved from Texas to Charlottesville, Virginia in 2008 to plant a church, she got a much-needed re-do on making and deepening friendships. She now loves to help other women discover the surprising reasons friendship often eludes them, and she also loves helping them find the community they crave.
She owes me something.
She’s responsible now to figure out how to console me.
Her actions need to shift for me to ever love her.
Everything needs to change before I can be happy.
I win, as a better person, because she’s always losing.
What shocks me about my above brutally-honest list is – when I look at it, I could have striked all those words and just written: me, me, me! I could have summarized it all up: “You stink, lady, you are not good enough and you better improve or I’ll always live hurt.”
Who made her God? And who made me so reliant she rules my emotions, pride, joy and peace?
When people rule us, we aren’t being ruled by God. It’s a give in. God’s gone – gone.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb. 11:22-24)
We have come to Jesus.
Not to a woman who lets us down.
Not to a job we detest.
Not to a boss who favors others.
Not to a child who is completely and utterly defiant.
Not to questions that rule over us.
Not to a spouse who speaks meanly.
Not to a situation that is ruling us.
We have come to God, the Judge, the one who makes us righteous, perfect, to the mediator, to the one who sprinkled grace over our head and declared us as his own.
Man will let us down, God won’t. He’s already lifted us up to seat us with Christ (Eph. 2:6) and, even better, He’s declared the deed, the position for us final by saying, “It is finished. (Jo. 19:30)” And, guess what? It is.
So, who can tie us up to the back of the car and drag us through the gravel? No one.
Who can rip out our voice and tell us it’s worthless? No one.
Who can hurt us time and time again, thereby ruining our soul? No one.
Humbly, we rest under him. Jesus. The one crushed, so we emotionally aren’t. The one beaten so we could beat relational pain through Him. The one mocked, so when we are, we remember He understands, knows and cares for us. The one broken, so we could be healed. The one victorious, who marks us that name alike.
We aren’t the product of a person’s action. Or, maybe we are. We are the product of Jesus’ actions. And, by Him, we are saved from the things that want to take us down.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:18-19
I have a dream.
Ever had one of those? A ridiculous thing? A hope? A wish? A prayer? Something you want, but feels impossible to have? Something that if it came true, you’d feel like – you made it, you lived out what you were created for?
I have this dream, much of it revolves around Ephesians 3:18-19:
That we, as American women, would stand like tall oaks, unwavering, because we are rooted in God’s love.
That we, together, would be planted, with power to mobilize, migrate and make a difference.
That we would extend love that surpasses – knowledge.
That we would be filled with the full measure of God, thereby never being the same again.
I don’t know how this all looks, but something in me sees something uprising and I’m just going to walk by faith. I believe if I plant my seed into fertile soil, God will sink the beginnings of roots right into his love. Love grows things.
So, here I’ll stand. Holding my seed, waiting. Trusting, his love. Believing, He’ll grow it. I expect to return back to this post, smiling. I expect to have remembered the start of a big dream. I expect to encounter trials of many varieties, but I also expect to encounter a triumphant God who always wins. I expect to press on and to press in. I expect to come out different, with new light, His light.
This is faith, I’m learning.
What faith do you need to execute your dream?
Let me tell you what you don’t need: You don’t need people to act a certain way. You don’t need to handle all those excuses. You don’t need more strength. You don’t need to lose that job. You don’t need to wipe clean your errors of the past. You don’t need to know “how”. You don’t need to know “when”. You don’t need people to “get it”. You don’t need new resources. You don’t need more qualifications. Nope.
God, nearly every time, uses the least exemplary of these to do the most extraordinary things. Moses. Noah. David. Mary.
Dream a little dream, friend.
And go easy on it, for a dream is just a vapor. You hold it up to God. He breathes on it. It forms, grows limbs, moves, speaks and then guides.
All you need is Him. The pressure is off you. All you need is faith. Faith activates great.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory…forever and ever! (Eph. 3:20-21)
We don’t need to know, He does.
We need only pray, He’ll have his way.
We need only trust, He’s bigger than us.
We need a giant belief He’ll pull through.
We need a bit of grace to take us.
We need eyes for everlasting glory, not our own fleeting glory.
We need reliance on Jesus Christ.
We need praise, worship and thanks.
We need to return all glory to our maker.
We need to make it all about love.
We need wild faith.
There is a huge ravine behind my house. If you make it down without falling or getting caught in a rabbit hole, you’ll find yourself at a playground. On most days, my kids longingly stare at it from our kitchen.
On a good sunny day, after rain storms are done and passed, I take the hike with them. As a good mom, or, at least, one who tries to be, I look for everything that could go wrong along the way. If I see a thorn bush, I pull it away before it snags them. If I see a bunch of rocks that may twist their ankle, I lead them in a different direction. If I see a huge ditch that might entrap them, I make sure to lift them over.
I go before my children… My eyes travel the path before them, so harm doesn’t as much befall them.
God does the same for us.
No matter what path we walk down, God is one step ahead. No matter what mountain we come up against, He is already climbing it. No matter what journey of uncertainty we encounter, God is 100 steps further. He’s laying out our path and preparing our steps. He’s flattening the land and preparing our journey. He’s uncovering our gold and laying it out for us.
He sees our way.
Sometimes, it seems, we believe we tread through this world, alone, like little boxcar children, trying to make it to the next meal. I’ve been thinking, this could not be further from the truth. We are always right next to God’s goodness.
Check out all the ways God goes before us:
“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
‘The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf…Deuteronomy 1:30
You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5 (NLT)
For the LORD will go before you, And the God of Israel will be your rear guard. Is. 52:12
I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. Is. 45:2
To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His lovingkindness is everlasting; Ps. 136:16
God is famous for caring and preparing us for greater things. He walks ahead to fight the battles we fear we can’t win. He calms the seas we’re convinced we can’t beat. He softens the blows we worry will take us down. He knows our road. He understands our coming trauma. He knows how to lead us through it.
Do you know what this means? We can worry less.
Just as I opened up the right path for my kids, God is opening the right path for us. It is for good. It will strengthen us. It will help us. It will lead us in the right way. It will lift us above harm.
God is always a step ahead, even when life makes us feel we’ve been left behind. Be it a marriage that is going under, a financial trial that looks impossible to fix, a baby that never seems to come, an addiction you can’t seem to beat, a dream that never surfaces – no matter, he’s a step ahead, working on your behalf.
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Is. 41:10